Public Health News Roundup: May 13
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that prompt treatment with an antiretroviral drug in an HIV-infected person with a relatively healthy immune system could reduce transmission of the virus to a partner by 96%. The clinical trial, called HPTN 052, spanned nine countries and included over 1,700 couples, according to a news release issued by NIH. Each couple included one partner infected with HIV and one not. (Most couples in the trial were heterosexual; study authors say the study is inconclusive so far about transmission in couples where both partners are men).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report showing that two thirds of all homicides committed with a firearm occur in big cities. According to the CDC, 25,423 murders by gunfire took place in the United States in 2006; 67% of these occurred in 50 of the largest cities. Children and teens age 10 to 19 accounted for 73 percent of all firearm homicides in the fifty largest cities. The researchers say strategies such as training young adults to handle conflict resolution without violence could lower the firearm homicide rate.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched an action plan aimed at preventing and treating viral hepatitis, which impacts up to 5.3 million Americans each year. According to HHS, while viral hepatitis is a leading infectious disease in the U.S., many people who have the condition don’t know they are infected, and are at risk for severe or fatal complications, and health care providers often lack the knowledge to prevent or treat the illness.
Reuters is reporting that over 8,000 chicken on an organic poultry farm in the Netherlands will be culled after a second case of avian flu was detected there in a two month period. Chickens at nearby farms are being screened. If avian flu is detected at the other farms, more poultry could be killed if the strain is shown to be highly infectious.
A new study in the journal Medical Decision Making finds that many patients with diabetes skip prescribed doses of statin drugs or even fail to take the drugs at all. The study found that about fifty percent are taking their statin medicine as prescribed after one year, but that the compliance rate drops to 27% after ten years. Taking the medicines as prescribed could increase length and quality of life for many patients, according to the researchers.